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Briarhill, Shadow Ridge middle schools hang out

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lisd_teachers_google_hangoutMiddle school teachers collaborate about different online resources for the classroom. Education author Robert John Meehan said, “The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives.”

During the course of one day, Shadow Ridge Middle School (SRMS) and Briarhill Middle School (BMS) teachers and Lewisville ISD (LISD) Design Coaches came together via Google Hangouts – an online video/presentation collaborative resource – to learn more and share their ideas about connecting across campuses to enhance student work utilizing an outside audience via online tools such as Google Hangouts, Google Blogger, FaceTime, Skype and Twitter. It was a day for teachers to learn something new thanks to the help of LISD Design Coaches, who shared the best ways for teachers to give students learning experiences outside the classroom walls.

“Google Hangouts was new for a large majority of the teachers,” BMS Library Media Specialist Tela Weesner said. “I heard one teacher discussing how she will use Google Hangouts for a virtual visit with a college admissions counselor. When asked ‘Why Google Hangouts?’, she said she wanted other classes to join in, but it has been difficult to find a place where several classes could watch at the same time. Using this platform allows other teachers the ability to join the hangout from their classrooms.”

SRMS Learning Enrichment Academic Program (LEAP) teacher Alisa St. John’s interest peaked when she learned more about Google Hangouts during the session.

“Today we are learning new ways of engaging our students and that’s why I am interested in trying this,” St. John said. “My students are brave and tech savvy, and I like them to be on the cutting edge of new things.”

From the session, St. John and LISD Design Coach Rick Bleemel created a get-your-feet-wet lesson for St. John’s LEAP students to utilize Google Hangouts. The lesson – comparing westward expansion of the United States to the earthman’s treatment of the Martian civilization found in the book “Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury. Half the class stationed themselves in the library and the other half remained in the classroom to work in groups of four. Each group created one slide with their analysis and put it all together in a Google Hangout for the entire class to review and discuss at the same time.

“It was easy to use, and we hope to expand and use it to work with other classes in the future,” St. John said.

Students loved the experience.

“Google Hangout is an innovative way to collaborate with other students around the world in real time,” SRMS student Allie Craig said.

Elizabeth Haas is part of the public relations team for the Lewisville Independent School District.

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